DETOX BEDS - Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne was in Red Deer at Safe Harbour Society to announce the opening of 20 new medical detox beds to help combat the ongoing opioid crisis. Todd Colin Vaughan/Red Deer Express

WATCH: Alberta Government opens 20 medical detox beds at Safe Harbour

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne officially opened 20 detox beds

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne was in Red Deer to officially open 20 medical detox beds at Safe Harbour Society to help battle the ongoing opioid crisis which is decimating Albertan communities.

The beds are funded through a $1.6 million grant to the Safe Harbour Society, which is now providing 24/7 access to a team of doctors and nurses. Local physicians, like Safe Harbour’s Physician lead of Medically Supported Detox Dr. Michael Mulholland, provides medication-assisted treatments such as methadone and suboxone.

So far, the detox beds have provided services to over 127 people.

“This life-saving program helps save mothers, sons, daughters, cousins, fathers and friends,” Mulholland said in a press release. “The reality is that addiction is a medical and social issue, and those who struggle with substance-use issues are part of our communities and families.

“As a physician supporting this program, my goal is to help those who need this detox care to receive it in a place that brings together the health-care system and community supports to care for the whole person, and to get them the help they need.”

Payne, who took part in an aboriginal prayer prior to the official ribbon cutting, said this is a big step towards battling the opioid crisis in Alberta.

“Making sure that people struggling with opioid dependency get treatment when they reach out for help is key to preventing more lives from being lost to the opioid crisis,” she said in a press release. “Medication-assisted treatment is described as a game changer from people receiving that support. These enhanced beds in Red Deer will help people in Central Alberta with opioid dependency get the medical care they need closer to home.”

Kath Hoffman, executive director of Safe Harbour, said this is going to make a huge difference and already has for the last six to eight weeks since the 20 beds officially opened.

“What happens is our buddy comes into detox and he (or she) is getting front line emergency medical care,” she explained. “There are now more medical options to help with his (or her) drug dependency. That is a big deal for our buddy.”

She added that the safety provided by AHS nurses and doctors means that families who drop their loved ones off at Safe Harbour can rest a bit easier knowing they will be safe at Safe Harbour.

The medical beds also will have an impact on reducing stress on the Red Deer Regional Hospital’s emergency room, according to Hoffman.

“As far as the community goes, we know we can help the hospital by getting those emergency beds freed up sooner,” Hoffman said. “Doctors at the hospital are helping people and now rather than keeping them in beds, they can send them down to Safe Harbour where those people will still receive the medical support they need.”

Hoffman said it is important that the community is educated on the fact that opioid addiction is a disease that is affecting real people.

“At Safe Harbour we serve six types of people — mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters,” she said. “That is a very difficult thing for people to remember.

“We have a lot of work to do to educate people that this is not the social issue that people think it is, but rather a health one. These medical supports go a long way in helping us tell that story.”

She added addiction is typically only a symptom of a greater mental health issue such as past trauma.

“I see the people in the Mats Program that come in and stay overnight here. They are high or intoxicated and I think, ‘How deep is that pain that it requires that level of numbing?’”

She added it is important to remember that addiction is not a choice and that people need to be given care and medical attention.

“It happens first of all on a front line level like we are at Safe Harbour, providing those faces of welcome and connection so they know they can come in and they will be welcomed and that we will do all we can to wrap supports and resources around them.”

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

Like us on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RedDeerExpress/ and follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/RedDeerExpress.

Just Posted

City council supports $25,000 for Downtown Community Development Committee

Funding supports stakeholders in developing programs enhancing downtown safety

Red Deer’s Gord Bontje gives $500,000 to A Better World

Co-owner of Laebon Homes gives the gift to celebrate 60th birthday

Tyler Steenbergen etches his name into Canadian hockey history

Sylvan Lake native scores huge tournament-winner at World Juniors

WATCH: Red Deer Entertainment Awards honours Red Deer’s burgeoning talent

The awards looks to become more inclusive of the entire entertainment scene in year three

JoJo Mason heads to Red Deer’s Bo’s Jan. 29th

Mason will be performing tunes from his debut album Both Sides Of The Bar

WATCH: Red Deer Entertainment Awards honours Red Deer’s burgeoning talent

The awards looks to become more inclusive of the entire entertainment scene in year three

Diplomacy on agenda at North Korea summit in Vancouver

Foreign ministers from 20 countries are meeting Tuesday to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Kids chained in Calif. house of horrors; parents arrested

Authorities say an emaciated teenager led deputies to home where her 12 brothers and sisters were locked up in filthy conditions

‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

“This man is reprehensible,” tweeted former White House staffer Sebastian Gorka

‘I shouldn’t have to have a husband:’ Winnipeg woman criticizes men-only club

Jodi Moskal discovered the Winnipeg Squash Racquet Club continues to ban women as members, as it has done since opening in 1909.

Japan public TV sends mistaken North Korean missile alert

The false alarm came two days after Hawaii’s emergency management department sent a mistaken warning

Toronto girl dies after being pinned between vehicles while picked up from school

Police say an SUV with no driver in it rolled forward and pinned the girl against her father’s car

Ontario man charged with selling Canadian’s usernames and passwords

Ontario man ran site that peddled billions of pieces of personal data: RCMP

Hawaii missile-alert mistake feeds doubts about a real emergency

A push alert that warned of an incoming ballistic missile to Hawaii and sent residents into a full-blown panic was a mistake

Most Read